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Jane is EducaRed

Jane is Serious about Games

WWO’s particular friend Jane McGonigal has announced a presentation at the EducaRed conference in Madrid, Spain beginning November 26. Her subject: serious games – i.e., games that are actually about something, that connect people to real-world problems, and that give its players useful knowledge and skills. What kind of games should young people be playing more of? What kinds of collaboration skills and collective intelligence will they learn by playing the right games? One of the serious games she cites is World Without Oil (the other is SuperStruct). Inspiring stuff. Watch her 7-min video.

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WWO Lesson Plans at PBS - Independent LensVia Independent Lens, ITVS has published the World Without Oil lesson plans on the Public Broadcasting System website – PBS.org. The announcement went out Thursday in the PBS Teachers newsletter for April 20-26, 2008. So that’s a big honor – and a nice way to direct teachers to this novel way to engage students with energy policy, sustainability, and the role energy plays in the American economy, culture, worldview, and history. The lesson plans now include an independent study track, so self-directed students can get themselves into the serious game. You can also find the lesson plans on the WWO site, right here at worldwithoutoil.org/teach.

Activism Award for World Without OilWWO wins the Activism Award at South By Southwest – thanks Krystyn for pointing us to this great photo at WIRED. And thanks ARGNet for spreading the news. Kudos to all the members of the WWO team – a well-deserved honor.

Folks, you should check out the other finalists in the SXSW Activism category – they are all great sites:

Amnesty International: Tear It Down

Boost

MakeMeSustainable

The Point

SXSW People’s AwardDay 3 of the SXSW Interactive Festival – finding lots of interest in the idea of using ARGs in serious ways. Tonight’s the night of the SXSW web awards, and WWO is up for an award in the “making the world a better place” (Activism) category: Cathy Fischer of ITVS, Dee Cook and I are on hand and Jane McGonigal is flying in even as I write this. (And we hope to connect with even more WWO teammates by phone.) Double awards tension for us, as ITVS’ Independent Lens is also up for an award in the Classic category. Looking forward to a fun evening and very much thinking about the thousands of individual contributions that have brought us here… Thinking that it’s like The Wizard of Oz: it’s not the people behind the curtain, but the players in front who have given the WWO story courage, brains, and most of all, heart.

In case you haven’t seen it…

South By Southwest Web Awards 2008World Without Oil has been nominated for a number of web awards, and yesterday we got word that it’s a Top Five finalist in the 2008 South By Southwest Interactive competition, in the “Activism” category. You can see the list of finalists here (some pretty cool sites, yow). Plus WWO sponsor ITVS has its Independent Lens website as a finalist in the “Classic” category… plus WWO’s participation architect Jane McGonigal (some of you know her as mpathytest) will be a keynote speaker at SXSW Interactive on Tuesday, March 11. So we look to be well represented at SXSW – let me know if you’re gonna be around.

Making Your Media Matter“Making Your Media Matter” is the yearly conference put on by the Center for Social Media at American University. It starts tomorrow (Feb 7), and World Without Oil will be represented in their first panel, “Games for Social Change,” by Dennis Palmieri of ITVS. Other games represented include A Force More Powerful, Peacemaker, and ICED!, so Dennis is in good company. You can follow events at the conference starting here.

Henry Jenkins, Wikipedia, and WWOI’m cribbing today from these notes that Doug Foxgrover made of a talk by Henry Jenkins, transmedia/new media guru at MIT, at Educause. The talk was on “What can Wikipedia teach us about new media literacies?” The talk itself is podcasted here.

I bring it up because education was (and is) very much a goal of WWO. It’s part of the mission of ITVS, our sponsor, and very much on my mind these days as I work to shape the WWO lesson plans for high school teachers. (Looking at first drafts now; ready in about 3 weeks?)

This gets important, as Jenkins, Jane McGonigal and others say that “new media literacy” is exactly what people are going to need to be capable learners and contributors as the world moves into a participatory digital culture. Jenkins’ checklist for that culture maps really well onto World Without Oil:

  • Low barriers to artistic and civic expression (people played WWO by email or even by phone)
  • Strong support for creating and sharing what you create
  • Some kind of informal mentorship (peer to peer, mostly, but our WWO characters filled this role)
  • Members feel their contributions matter
  • Some degree of social connection between members

The new media literacies are social skills and participation skills, and there’s nothing like a shared crisis to get people talking and working together – even if that crisis is of the “what if?” variety.

Three other things in Jenkins’ talk resonated with me: one, you must take the students’ participation seriously – it must matter. In WWO we pretty much let our “students” drive the bus, to really good effect I think. Two, you should let the participation emerge from students’ own cultural life – again, something WWO explicitly did. And finally, Jenkins identifies a core challenge as ethical: as the traditional forms of professional training (such as journalism) break down, how do you prepare ordinary citizens, and young people in particular, for their increasing role as participants? This is exactly the big deal about WWO, I think: to democratize real-world problemsolving, to empower people to collectively forge their own solutions.

Jenkins lists “four big ideas”: Collective intelligence, Judgment, Networking and Negotiation. And cites WWO as an example of the first big idea. WWO Lives!

In other news, the price of oil – not. Anyone else noticed how it has completely fallen off the news radar lately?

It was the world's first serious alternate reality game, a cooperative pre-imagining of a global oil crisis. Over 1900 players collaborated in May 2007 to chronicle the oil crisis with their own personal blog posts, videos, images and voicemails. The game ended after simulating the first 32 weeks of the oil shock, but its effects continue, as game designers analyze its unique gameplay and we all watch the continuing drama with global oil prices and supply.